SOUTH PORTLAND - Philip Ralph Viola passed away peacefully on Oct. 1, 2021 due to complications caused by Parkinson’s Disease. Phil was surrounded by his most prized possession: his loving family.
Phil was born in Portland on Feb 7, 1934, the son of Italian immigrants Saverio and Filomena (Rossini) Viola. He grew up on Newbury Street in the "Little Italy" neighborhood of Portland where he and his family lived many of the Italian traditions that Phil passed on to his own children and grandchildren. Phil was known to all as “the baby of the family” being the youngest of 10 children and looked up to all his siblings with fondness and respect. Phil graduated from Portland High School in 1952 and began his career following in the footsteps of his older brothers by serving in the US Army from 1956-1958 as a Military Police Officer in the “C Company, 503rd Battalion” stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Earning an honorable discharge from the Army, Phil joined the Portland Fire Department serving as a Firefighter for 3 years. He then went to work for the United States Postal Service as a Letter Carrier for 30-plus years beginning on Peaks Island, parts of Deering and then transferring for the remainder of his career to the Thornton Heights, Country Gardens and Sunset Park area of South Portland. Carrying on with the Viola work-ethic and to make ends meet for his large Italian family, Phil also worked the weekends unloading fishing boats or “lumping pogies” on the Portland waterfront with his brothers and nephews. Fondly known as “Philly”, the family would always seek him out because “no one can cut a fish any better than Philly”. In his retirement Phil worked as a delivery driver for Vose Smith Floral Shop and NAPA Auto Parts. Phil and his wife May opened a restaurant in the early 1990s, which turned out to be a very successful endeavor. They decided to sell the restaurant in 1994 and it is still in operation today.
Phil was a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, The Italian Heritage Center of Portland and the BPOE (Elks) club. He was a communicant of Holy Cross and St. Peter's Catholic Church.
Phil dedicated his life to his beloved wife May, their children, and grandchildren. He worked tirelessly to provide for them, while teaching the values of his Roman Catholic religion. He was first and foremost a proud husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Phil always supported his children and grandchildren at school events, athletic events, and all their other endeavors. This undying support continued later in life as he remained a passionate fan for teams they had played on. Dad and Grampy was and always will be their biggest fan.
Phil and May’s home was and still is the gathering place for family events, and the door remains open to extended family and friends. Even though his wife May was the cook in the house, Phil always enjoyed cooking his Italian “greens & beans”, frittata and stuffed artichokes. Phil also enjoyed hitting his secret mushroom spots where he would harvest gourmet tree and ground mushrooms and cook them in his traditional ways.
His smile was infectious and his personality as big as life itself. He earned great respect from people he knew well and those he had just met, by just starting a casual conversation with whomever was the lucky person at that moment. By the time he was done talking with them, a connection had been established and they would remain with him. Phil was also a die-hard New England sports fan, with special attention paid to his beloved Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics. He enjoyed the beautiful sound of Luciano Pavarotti and Mario Lanza, watching classic movies while relaxing on the couch, going to the casino with family, and lengthy conversations at any time of day. These always consisted of asking how all family members have been and “what are they up to” and finishing each conversation with “is there anything I can do for you?”
Phil was predeceased by his parents, beloved wife of 56 years May (Mandarelli) Viola, two sisters, Thomasina (Tom) Reynolds and Mary Mayberry and six brothers, Santino (Jack), Benedetto (Benny), Constantino (Joe), Gaetano (Kita), Pasquale (Pat), Saverio (Sammy) and Anthony (Tony).
He is survived by his five children, daughter Filomena M. Russell and her husband Robert of Gorham, Donna M. Viola and her husband Francis Martinez of Portland, daughter Krista M. Viola and her wife Linda Barry Holmberg of South Portland, son Philip A. Viola and his wife Robin of South Portland, and son Jason G. Viola and his wife Lauren of South Portland. Phil was blessed with seven grandchildren: Joseph, Justin, and Nicholas Russell, Maria Rivera, Meghan DiFiore, and Caleb and Noah Viola. Phil was also blessed with ten great-grandchildren, Luke, Beckett, Gatlin, Garron, Garner and Raelynn Russell, Giada and Maya Rivera, and Bella and Luca DiFiore. Stories of Uncle Philly will also live eternally in the minds of his numerous nieces and nephews. He had a particularly special bond with his nephew Freddie; and Filomena, Donna, Krista, Philip, and Jason would like to express extreme gratitude for his years of thoughtfulness and care.
Our family would like to extend special thanks to the entire staff at Ledgeview Assisted Living in Cumberland for the loving care and friendships that they bestowed to Phil and our entire family over the last 4 months. We would also like to thank the South Portland Fire Department for their professionalism, compassion and care of their father over the last few years.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Phil’s memory to: South Portland Boys and Girls Club https://www.bgcmaine.org/donate
Visiting hours will be held at A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home, 660 Brighton Ave., Portland, on Thursday, October 21 from 4-7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland on Friday, October 22 at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in the New Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Philip Ralph Viola, please visit our floral store.